It can also be downright dangerous if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing, as I clearly was not on a certain crisp fall day in the early 1990s during a pie making demonstration at Boston’s Faneuil Hall in front of a lively crowd that wasn’t even out for blood but got it anyway.
At The Risk of Rubbing Salt Into an Old Wound…
…so to speak, I will not name the principal players involved. Suffice to say I was appearing on behalf of Big Butter, at an event sponsored by Big Magazine, and I had all of about 15 minutes to demonstrate for the hundreds of faithful assembled how to make an apple pie using Big Butter’s butter in the pie dough. (Perhaps “faithful assembled” is a little misleading: think carnival midway, not 11:00 AM mass at St. Mary’s.)
You can tell in the first couple of minutes when you’ve “got” a crowd – a gathering that’s engaged, interested, and ready to have some fun. This one was, and I was quickly on my A+ game, telling stories, seamlessly working in key talking points, and acting every bit the professional I’d been hired to be. Until, that is, I stopped the food processor, reached in to feel my pastry-in-the-making, and sliced my forefinger to the quick.
This, at the precise moment I heard myself saying to the crowd: Be very, very careful when you reach into your food processor to check the dough. You can cut yourself badly if you’re not careful.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
This was not the first time I’d failed to heed my own sage advice – nor has it been the last – but never have I ignored my own advice in such a grand and public fashion.
Had the crowd been smaller or less animated, my fate would have been more apparent. As it was, no more than a handful of people in the front rows had any idea what had happened. I quickly wrapped my finger in tissue and managed my way through the rest of the demonstration. Twenty years later some of the details are pretty murky, but this much is still perfectly clear: food processor pastry is great, but watch that blade.
Tips For Food Processor Pastry Success
-Not everybody will agree with this, but I prefer to make only one batch of pastry at a time when I’m using my food processor. Processors do a better, more even job of mixing when they’re not too full.
-Make sure your fat is well chilled before you add it to the machine: food processors can create a good deal of friction, and therefore heat, and heat is undesirable when you’re making pastry.
-Pulse the machine in 1 to 2 second bursts to combine the pastry. Do not run the processor continuously or you’ll overmix the dough.
I have a number of excellent food processor pie doughs I’ve been making for years. This favorite, below, yields excellent, flaky results.
(Note: if you have not already, enroll in The Pie Academy and start receiving my video course called 7 Simple Ways to Build a Better Pie. It includes one video devoted entirely to making food processor pastry. – Ken Haedrich)